What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading

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what we talk about when we talk about books.jpg
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Books: The History and Future of Reading

25.20 28.00

Reports of the death of reading are greatly exaggerated


Do you worry that you’ve lost patience for anything longer than a tweet? If so, you’re not alone. Digital-age pundits warn that as our appetite for books dwindles, so too do the virtues in which printed, bound objects once trained us: the willpower to focus on a sustained argument, the curiosity to look beyond the day’s news, the willingness to be alone.

The shelves of the world’s great libraries, though, tell a more complicated story. Examining the wear and tear on the books that they contain, English professor Leah Price finds scant evidence that a golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers already skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors even forbade the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions.

The evidence that books are dying proves even scarcer. In encounters with librarians, booksellers and activists who are reinventing old ways of reading, Price offers fresh hope to bibliophiles and literature lovers alike.

Leah Price has taught English at Cambridge University, Harvard University, and Rutgers University, where from fall 2019 onward she will be founding director of the Rutgers Book Initiative. She is the author How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain and the editor of Unpacking My Library.

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